What makes drone footage cinematic?

in Threespeak2 months ago

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I guess there are two main modes for how to fly your drone: you're in it for the sports (fast, agile racing of first-person-view flying) or you're in it for the cinematography (breathtaking video- or photography). For me, it's the latter category.

But, what constitues a good cinematographic shot?

If you want to do it really well, you have to be a good photographer or a good videographer on the one hand, and than a good, for want of a better word, dronegraher on the other hand. A good photographer of videographer already knows everything about exposure, lightning, white balance, composition and colours. And then follows the art of how to position or how to fly your drone to create that unique photo or unique shot.

I am neither a good photographer nor a good videographer and I am really new to drone flying. Perhaps I should first learn about how to be a good photographer or a good videographer. But I have a new drone and I want to fly with it. So, I made the choice to fly with it and try and learn what makes drone footage work. Undoubtedly there's a lot of material about this subject already availble, either in print or on the internet. Time spent reading is time spent not flying, so, I'll just fly and see what footage I like.

Today we went walking in the woods, I brought my drone and shot some footage that I used to create this video. It's not (yet) great drone footage, it is me learning what I like so that I know which shots to practice.

The first shot is following the path we walked, low to the ground. I guess this works reasonably wel. The lines of the path create clear lines for the eyes to follow. And the drone moving forward add to that. In the second shot I let the drone clime up along a tree, and at the same time tilt the camera down. That's a shot that creates a lot of depth and good be very interesting if executes well. In the shot after that I follow the path from above. Again the path creates a clera line for the eye to follow. Then follows a shot where the drone still flies along the same path and descends at the same time. I think it works okay, yet I think it would have been better if I had tilted slowly the camera up as well.

Then follows a shot where the drone flies up and brings me and my family in view. Even if it is a simple movement (up), I think it works great to reveal something I, as a videographer, want to show or reveal. In the shot after that, I just let the drone however and create a static shot. Could be great to show some scenery or such or create a resting point after some more dynamic shots.

In the three shots after that, I try to combine multiple movement: going forward, descend and turn, or going forward, descend a little and tilt the camera down. I think these shots work great. The only thing missing, is something really interesting to show....

From today's flight, I learned mainly three things that I like:

  • follow a line in the landscape, either low or high
  • use motion to reveal the subject of the shot
  • create shots with at least three movement: forward-down-rotate, or forward-down-camera-down

In the third bullet point either movement can of course be exchanged with it's oppostie. This last one is the most difficult to perform for me. So it's probably a good idea to start practising them in my next flying sessions.


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Very nice for your learning process 👍 I would say you are going to do very interesting and good shots.

Enjoy the "flying" and keep us updated with the new videos !

Thanks, and I will.
We're away for a few days to celebrate the turning of the year. When the weather is good I should be able to shoot some nice footage.

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Have a nice time and happy New Year @partitura. 🤗

Wow! Will you be starting a YouTube channel for your great drone shots? Imagine a drone recording your organ playing...

Not sure yet. For now I use 3Speak.
And combining organ playing and drone filming would be great, but I can't manouvre it while playing. Besides, it would blow the music from the music rack....

Happy New Year to you and your family!

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